Stakeholders at the concluding leg of Trade Law Centre (TRALAC’s) three-part weekly AfCFTA workshop series, held Thursday and focused on outstanding issues of Phase I and Phase II of the AfCFTA Agreement implementation negotiations, have urged African countries to adopt trade and safeguard measures.
Trade remedies (TR) are trade policy tools used by governments to take remedial action against imports which cause injury to domestic industries. TR, which consist of anti-dumping (AD), countervailing and safeguard measures, have been described as critical to achieving the goals of the AfCFTA.
Speaking during session on trade remedies and safeguards as an important tool in multilateral trade agreements, Professor Gerhard Erasmus, founder of TRALAC, bemoaned the current low-level of the adoption of multilateral trading remedies by African states. “Trade remedies are rare in Africa, but there are signs of implementing safeguards,” Erasmus said, identifying South-Africa and Egypt as the only active users of multilateral trade remedies in Africa; while Zambia and Madagascar as states who had employed safeguard measures in the past.
Trudi Hartzenberg, TRALAC’s executive director, emphasized the importance of building the technical capacity of African countries on trade remedies which she considered as a “matter of urgency”. “The building of technical capacity is absolutely critical and should be treated as a matter of urgency by member states, because this will influence those who will win or lose in the liberalization of the African trade ( i.e AfCFTA).”
Furthermore, stakeholders also underlined the importance of ‘trade data’, especially in anti-dumping (AD) investigations which often occur in multilateral trading, as well as training of private sector participants in understanding of the guidelines regarding anti-dumping investigations.
“It is extremely important to have African trade data for effective anti-dumping investigations, because it will help in knowing the source of the dumped goods and guide subsequent actions that will follow”. If member states can adopt this philosophy, approaches and measures, they will have a lot of influence on good governance in the AfCFTA system,” the stakeholders agreed.
Since the formal kick-off of the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in July 2019, negotiations on Phase I – which primarily focused on areas such as goods and services trade as well as dispute settlement – had been on. Further consultations are still planned for Phase II of the negotiations, which are expected to continue throughout 2020, with the next key milestone being the adoption of terms of reference for the working groups tasked with those processes.
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